Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Haiti Team Journal (Part 3)

Saturday, March 23
We woke up early,6:15 a.m., for a hike to the caves. Kelly, one of our guides, had gotten up at 4:00 and then walked for 45 minutes in the dark to be at our gate at 5:00, where he waited for us!

We walked through picturesque dirt paths hedged by cacti, hiked up a mountainside and past terrace gardens until we finally arrived at the caves. Entering the mouth of a cave we descended into the darkness. 

The first thing we noticed when we grabbed on to surrounding rocks to scale down was the guano (bat poop!) Our hands were full of it!

Some of us only went in part way, as it stank pretty badly in there On the walk back to the compound we passed by some Haitian women doing their laundry, and stopped to “help” them. (One thing they do very well is laundry; when several of us put filthy brown socks into the laundry -a service that was provided for us- they came back unbelievably sparkling white!)

As we walked, clean clothes were drying on the cactus hedges. We met children on the pathway who were carrying water from the well. Even very small children, 4-5 years old, had small containers of water, which they carried back to their mud homes.

We crossed a small stream where a farmer had tied up several of his cows to water them; occasionally, in the rocky fields, we would see goats nibbling at whatever they could find.

Upon returning to the compound, we stuffed ourselves with yummy homemade bread and jam. Then it was market time!

We drove for thirty minutes in the Land Rover to “downtown” Pignon. As we drove, we saw Haitian people traveling by foot to the market, some with donkeys laden with goods. (Markets here are usually on Saturdays, and many will walk for as many as three hours to attend!) Once we arrived at the market, we were in for a once-in-a-lifetime experience!

Besides one other white woman we saw there, we were the only white people there among the hundreds and hundreds of Haitians. The sounds and smells there were beyond description. Besides the mass of sweaty people pressing together, we saw and smelled pots of rice and beans simmering on charcoal fires; goats ready for slaughter; and chickens tied up, ready to sell, some in the process of being plucked!

The meat tables were also beyond description; every part imaginable of goats and chickens was for sale. Flies hovered over them enjoying a free meal while stray dogs hung around under the wooden tables, snapping up scraps that fell to the ground.

With the $200 we had with us, we purchased clothing to hand out where necessary in the coming week. With Jason's help we bartered with merchants under the burning sun. 

One elderly vendor was so happy that we were spending money at her stall that she kept saying, “Thank you, Jesus! Thank you, God!”

Soon we had crowds of people following us, hoping that we would buy things from them as well. With the last of our money, we found various children, and helped them to find and purchase shoes that fit them.

The heartbreaking thing was that we could help so few of the children. For every one we helped there was a handful of others showing us their decrepit shoes, eyes full of hope that they would get “new” shoes too.

Leaving the market was a bit of a challenge but eventually we made it back to the Land Rover and were soon making our way back to the mission compound.

We arrived there back in time for lunch.

After lunch we piled into the Land Rover again to head out to the river. This was the day there would be a baptismal service at the river. 10 new believers who had been instructed by JeanJean on the essentials of the Christian faith, were ready to profess their faith and be baptized.

Today was quite an eventful day for the church and community as JeanJean had married five couples who had been living common-law in the morning and now ten new believers were to be baptized as well.

The scene at the river was something else. Women scrubbed their laundry, sitting on chairs in the river, all the while curiously watching the goings-on. 

A spring-fed pipe splashed fresh water into the river and many children, some clothed and a few not, walked back and forth filling various containers for their families. A water truck driver waited the entire baptismal service before filling his truck; meanwhile, he watched the proceedings with great interest.

During the service two motorbikes just about lost it (and their passengers) as they tried to cross the river.

In the meantime, the choir sang, loudly. JeanJean spoke a message, before entering the river to hear the profession from each person being baptized. He then dunked them in the river. 

After they were baptized the believers were then wrapped in white blankets and returned to the bus to change into dry clothes.

 Two of those baptized were former witch doctors who had come to faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.

You can read one of their testimonies by clicking the link here: The Witch Doctor's Testimony . The ceremony was very touching to witness.

 After dinner, JeanJean cut some sugar cane for us to experience; it tasted like very sweet sugar.

Many Haitians eat this like candy, which may explain why there are so many children with brown spots on their teeth!

We then headed over to the church to hear a very enthusiastic choir performance. JeanJean asked us to introduce ourselves, which was when we learned that Ryan has 7 kids!

When we returned to the dorm, we still had to head over to the kitchen to wash dishes. We managed to find the (dim) light and turn it on – only to find cockroaches scurrying across the walls. We couldn’t figure out how to get hot water, so we washed in cold water with a bit of bleach, quickly dried the dishes, and called it a night. 

Written by M. Roseboom

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